In Houston, I stayed with one of Kate’s dearest friends, Kath Blanco. Kath and Kate refrain from discussing how long they have been friends, for obvious reasons. But I feel fortunate to have come to know Kath, her husband, Jorge and their son, Nicholas.
I first met Nick when he was 12 and a budding guitarist. I introduced him to the music of Stevie Ray Vaughn, which intensified his interest in music. Today, Nick is 23 and attending the University of Houston.
The family was away the afternoon I arrived in Houston. I had the key to their condo and set about taking a long walk to get the bus out of my system. When I returned from the walk, I could hear music blaring from inside the house. I let myself in and found Nick in the garage, sitting on a folding chair, facing two immense speakers. The music was instantly recognizable, Deep Purple, Live in Japan, from the early 70s.
I thought Deep Purple “live” was an interesting choice for a 23 year old and assumed it was Pandora or a CD playing through the speakers. But it was an album, vinyl played at 33RPM. Nick has joined a growing tribe of young music lovers who are eschewing digital delivery for the richer, perfectly imperfect sound of traditional vinyl.
Nick showed off his system and album collection. I felt like a college freshmen once again, enthralled and slightly jealous of the equipment and his music collection. I flipped through the albums, amazed that his collection mirrored that which I once owned but, sadly, gave away when CDs became “the thing.”. Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, Traffic. Dylan. Van Morrison. But the thing that was so exciting was to “experience” the album covers; each of them a work of art, a story unto itself. I pulled out one of my favorite albums (and covers) of all time, Led Zeppelin III, with its rotating wheel of images. In a nod to the present, I asked Nick to hold the album cover and join me for a selfie.
Nick then pulled out another of my favorite albums, Grand Funk Railroad’s American Band. I forgot that the vinyl was a thick gold, matching the album’s simple gold cover. I pulled up a chair and sat next to Nick as the initial strains of “We’re An American Band” poured from the huge speakers. It was a wonderful moment, a beautiful juxtaposition of eras. Two dudes, separated by 34 years, connected by timeless music played through classic technology, tapping out text messages on iPhones that would have once been the stuff of science fiction.
Thanks Nick for giving this old dude a very special memory.